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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Corn rows
Growing corn in field across from our house

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"Spiritual Weed Control"

"Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful"  (Mark 4:18,19).

Amish teamFarmers use a number of different methods to prepare their fields for planting. The traditional plow completely turns the soil over. It always captures my attention when I see the Amish in our county using a large team of mules to pull the plow as they continue to use this labor intensive method.

Many farmers plant using a technique known as "no till".  The soil is merely scored and the seed inserted, along with a squirt of fertilizer.  A large field across from our home was planted with corn using this method several weeks ago and afterwards you could see the tiny score line, but apart from that there was hardly any evidence that recent work had been done in the field.

The farmer then applies a selective herbicide, which kills the weeds without harming the germinating corn kernels.  The field turns brown but soon the tiny sprouts of very green corn emerge from the soil.  In several weeks the growing corn completely covers the dead weeds. As you can see from the photo above the corn is about 12 inches tall already and by the end of the summer it will likely be over ten feet tall.

A fundamental reality in farming is the importance of weed control and that's also a fundamental truth in Christian discipleship!  In the Parable of the Sower Jesus uses a farming illustration that connects not only with His initial hearers but to all diligent students of the Bible. If you live in the city or a suburb and have no knowledge of agriculture you need to learn a little about farming to understand.

In this parable Jesus emphasized His plan that we be fruitful as His followers.  The thorns (weeds) illustrate hindrances to our growth and fruitfulness as Christians.  Some seed was sown among the thorns, which choked the Word as it developed.  Jesus elaborates on this deadly choking using three conditions we can all identify with and they're every bit as applicable today as when He shared the parable two thousand years ago; "the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things."  These are thorns that choke God's Word in our lives.

So I wonder…  Is there a spiritual herbicide that will kill the weeds that hinder my spiritual growth?  The answer is surely "Yes".  As we submit to the Lord and His Word, denying the desires of the old nature and applying godly principles we see the weeds dying.

However it's a persistent effort since those pesky weeds keep coming back!  That's the same with the application of the herbicide to the farmer's field or to our small vegetable garden for that matter.  Weeds just keep coming back!

Is there a single method, perhaps a course or a spiritual experience, which will once for all rid us of all the weeds that hinder our spiritual life?  I think not - not on this side anyway.  Stay faithful.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Father God, I'm often tossed and torn by the worries of this life, the false hope of material wealth, and the desires that pull me in a direction opposite the straight and narrow path You laid out for me.  But I am able to defeat these recurring temptations when I repeatedly say "no" to those things which distract me from the goal of the prize of the high calling I have in Christ Jesus.  I choose not to have a life equivalent to a barren wasteland, but instead I want my life to be full of wholesome productive fruit. I want to be a Kingdom builder.  Help me, Father!

Personal note: Last night I went to a prayer service for a friend of mine who for the last several years has been afflicted with a crippling condition. What a marvelous time we had as several hundred people gathered to show support for this family and help bear their burden. We joined with the family at the front of the sanctuary and the area was packed with earnest friends expressing their prayers, love and support for this family. Joe Sherer, the pastor of the church, is a friend of mine.

Brooksyne's freshly planted gardenBrooksyne's Gardening Note:  Stephen called me inside the house to read the message and edit as needed. I didn't realize he was writing on the very thing that I was doing in my garden as I was planting tomatoes. Even though we just tilled the garden last week I was already pulling fresh weeds that were in the path of my planting row.  Yes, they're always present, but with a spread of newspapers and thick straw I'm going to do my best to keep them under control.  In a spiritual analogy the weed control exercise is comparable to my spiritual exercise of reading Scripture first thing upon awakening this morning and applying its personal message to my life.  (It also helps me to endure the painstaking job of pulling those persistent weeds as I got to work on my planting.)  Here is a photo Stephen took this morning of one of my freshly planted gardens. We actually have several small areas around our house where I plant a variety of vegetables, flowers and herbs. In a couple of months we sure hope the area in the photo will be covered in green and what I am looking forward to the most is what's in this photo. When I prepare them we will go yummy, yummy, yummy! Do I have an "Amen"?

Final note: Last night we spoke to Rick Masciantonio, a friend of ours from New England, who is attending a minister's conference in our area at Messiah College. For many years Rick and his family attended the church I pastored in New England. He is an outstanding expositor of the Scriptures although his messages are not for the faint of heart! He now preaches in various churches and a message related to today's topic (worries of this life) is available online. (For some reason this message downloaded very slowly on my machine so thus it may not be practically accessible to everyone.)
"Heavenly Help for Human Anxieties" (mp3)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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